Women have been shapeshifting who they are in leadership roles for years to fit into a man’s world. Times are changing. ~Kami Guildner
A new leadership paradigm is unfolding making way for leaders to embrace and embody a more graceful, heart-based, wisdom infused way of leading. This is leadership guided by seeing, feeling and connection. The world is ready. And in fact the world needs you.
Let’s start first by exploring the traditional masculine environments that have existed in corporate cultures. Most of us stepped into the male-dominated cultures of our workplaces and we’ve molded ourselves to fit in. We’ve emulated our mostly male leadership models, adopting working styles that existed around us.
We’ve made progress with women breaking the glass ceiling. But let’s face it – we have a long way to go. In the US, there are more CEOs named John than there are women CEO’s. Same thing with the name David.
I honor the women who broke the first glass ceilings. Many have been my friends and role models. Many have been my clients. They are really good at being a driving force – at moving in hard, straight, intentional lines.
And there is nothing wrong with this. For we need to be able to move in “make things happen” mode. I personally always prided myself as one of those women who were known for getting things done. There certainly have been times in my life where I know I took the ball of a project and railroaded myself into success.
I think most women leaders are really good at the grit. The stick-to-itiveness.
But here is the dilemma. When we – as women – stay in the drive, in the emulating of how we show up day-to-day in our life in a masculine energy mask – we break. We find ourselves in more battles… battles with those around us and battles with our inner SELF. We break because we’re keeping some of our very best parts of ourselves hidden, as we’ve been mentored to “be professional” in our work environments. The unsaid meaning of “being professional” has been laced in male characteristics and traits. And this only contributes to the breakdown of corporate cultures which has women leaving in droves.1
This at a time when a women’s touch is needed most.
From a longevity perspective, we are being called to come back home to who we are as women and really embrace our softer, gentler side of being. To let our feminine essence shine. To lead with grace. The opportunity that is before all of us who lead – is to learn to lead with grit and grace.
And let’s be clear – there is nothing weak about leading with grace. In fact, when you lead with the grace of a woman, you lead with more clarity and innovation. You resonate strength, confidence and positivity. When we learn to trust our natural intuitive ways of being and honor the inner knowing that exists within – we grow stronger. Our ability to lead change and impact is magnified.
Changing the way that we lead with more grace takes courage though. We have to let down our walls of protection and share a more vulnerable side of ourselves. We have to try ways of being in our natural state, that we might have turned off in our professional lives a long time ago. We may have to step into new unknown realms that take us out of our comfort zone. But it is time, for you my dear, to show up fully as you. In all your female wonder.
So how do we, as women, connect to our female essence in our leadership roles?
Be the perfect (and imperfect) expression of you
This means simply being you. This means getting to really know yourself. Take time to explore who you are at your very essence – your strengths, your passions, your values. Dig deep into the stories of your life where you have felt most on fire and passionate about what you were doing? What strengths and passions were you living into? Are they still present in your life today? If not, make space and time for that full expression of you to “be” – to live out loud. The people around you will notice. You will notice.
- Practical Tip: Journal on the question: Who am I at my very essence? Consider how you currently live into that essence in your professional life. Consider if there are pieces of the essence of you that you keep hidden in your professional life. What if you showed up in that full expression of you in all of your life? What would be different?
Know what it is you want to be known for
The most common statement I hear from women is, “I want to make a difference. I want to matter.” When we are making a difference, we light an inner fire that lights up a flame of strength. When we care deeply about something, our super woman powers are unleashed. I invite you to seek clarity in what it is you want to be known for: in your current role, within your organization, within your community, within the world. These ponderings can span the course of your lifetime – some will stick and some will change. It is the question that sets the course of your journey in your career and your life.
- Practical Tip: Journal on the question: What is the legacy I want to leave – in my work, my community, my world?
Make space for pause and quiet introspection
In the crazy busy pace of our lives and constant noise of people, technology and happenings that swirls about us, we can’t hear between the lines. We can’t connect the dots that need to be connected. Most importantly, we can’t hear our inner wisdom – our intuition. You – as woman – were born with an incredible sixth sense, an inner knowing that is there for you at any time. It can be your guide when making big decisions in your life, for seeing possibilities that weren’t there to see before. Your intuition can set free a wave of creativity, if only you make space.
I used to think I didn’t have time for meditation in the morning. What I learned after practicing meditation is that I’m most productive and most creative on the days I start in quiet introspection. It’s been one of my most important personal lessons I’ve learned in the past few years.
- Practical Tip: Take time for a peaceful walk, meditation or journaling each and every day – even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Try starting out your morning with 10 minutes of reflection time for one full week. At the end of the week, take time to notice what is different.
Learn to stand in your feminine power.
There is a light that emanates from inside of you if you let it shine. Don’t dim your light. Nurture it, tune into it, take care of it. When you do – you radiate. Practice turning this light on. Imagine a glowing light emanating from the core of your body. This light represents all the gifts of who you are. Celebrate that light.
- Practical Tip: Start at home – tune into your inner light and then begin to dance around the room with this light. Play. Have fun. Get to know your light. Next time you walk into a grocery store, take a moment to turn your inner radiant light on – and see what you notice as you walk the aisles. You will walk differently, you will connect differently. Finally, turn your inner light just before you walk into a meeting. Notice how things change.
How you resonate matters
It is easy to get caught into the drama that surrounds us every day. Be in the drama – or choose differently. You have a choice. We have over 60,000 thoughts a day, and 90% of those thoughts are the same ones that we had yesterday. And if you’re swirling in negativity, you are resonating negativity. Choose positive thoughts.
- Practical Tip: Consider if there are any stories in your mind that you keep coming back to you day after day. Perhaps it is irritation at a certain person or sadness from a promotion you didn’t get. What if instead, you turned that focus on to you – and all that is wonderful about you? What if instead, you turned your focus to the possibilities in your life? Celebrating your light within and how you can matter will help you move into expansive energy.
Know your personal rhythm
I call this flow. Consider, when are you most creative? In the morning when you wake up – or are you a late-nighter? When do your best strategic ideas come to you? When do you most like to connect with others and when do you want quiet alone time. Every one of us is different, and if you start to tune into what works best for you – you can design your days for productivity.
- Practical Tip: Set aside four hours on your work calendar next week, at a time when you are most creative in your day. Set it up so you will not be interrupted by phone or people. Perhaps you shut your door to your office – or even better leave the office and do it while sitting out in nature – which always sparks creativity. I call it a Project Date. Spend those four hours of uninterrupted time focused on an important project that you’re working on – drawing, mapping, free writing. I promise what comes for will be coming from a deeper wisdom within you. This is a time for flow – not hard lines and planning. Let the creativity within you give birth to new ideas.
Women together in circle, collaboration and community
Relationship and connections matter. Women have a natural gift of being in connection. Lean into women’s circles, uplift the women in your life and don’t be afraid to reach up for help.
- Practical Tip: Is there a woman in your circle that you can help this week? Reach out and extend a hand.
Here’s the final secret about grit and grace. Both women and men have the opportunity to embody feminine ways of leading. Just as we as women, embody the masculine ways of leading, men can embody the feminine ways of leading. The masculine and feminine traits are inherent in all beings. As a society, we’ve merely come out of balance putting more emphasis on masculine characteristics.
The next generation of leaders are rising up to lead with more grit and grace, with more heart and intuition. Won’t you join in the calling to lead this change? Let the ripple effect begin!
1 Huffington Post article, The Economic Cost of Gender Inequity and the Leaky Pipeline
Tune into Kami’s Extraordinary Women Radio weekly podcast to listen to stories of wildly successful women living with voice, vitality and vigor. https://www.kamiguildner.com/podcast-2/
Thanks for good article.